Draft of the ANLoc FOSS localisation manual

Localise software

Today is international translation day! As part of the African Network for Localisation (ANLoc), I have been writing a book on the localisation of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). One of the things we are trying to improve in Africa is the skills for doing software localisation, and of course, there is no better place to develop these skills than in Free and Open Source Software! The first version of the book is almost finished, and I would love to get more feedback. Download it here:

It is available under the Creative Commons license “Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike”.

The book isn't terribly detailed and technical, and tries to give a gentle introduction to several aspects of localisation and involvement in FOSS projects.

How you can contribute

You can contribute any way you want to, of course! Please tell me what you think about the content, the structure, the language, etc. Did I leave out anything important? Am I stressing the wrong topics? Would it be easy enough for newcomers to understand?

I have already gotten some great feedback from people in ANLoc and elsewhere. Many thanks to those who already sent their comments! The book isn't 100% finished yet, and I hope to incorporate another round of comments now in the push to finalising the first version of the book.

Why a(nother) book on FOSS localisation?

There is some existing documentation available, with our project wiki being a popular place to refer people to. While useful, it is not available as a single comprehensive text, and is probably too detailed on many pages for our purposes. We wanted something for training translators, and for people to be able to read a more planned, ordered text on their own. We have presented courses for the The Institute of Localisation Professionals (TILP), but this doesn't cover FOSS projects, tools, workflows, or the "mindset" if you know what I mean. It is also an expensive course, which necessarily excludes some people.

The Asian Pan Localization group wrote a book "Guide to Localization of Open Source Software" a few years ago with lots of information on how to get new languages well supported in the world of FOSS. The text is quite technical (in my opinion), and has a great focus on what I would consider "infrastructure"-level localisation (CTL, keyboards, fonts, locales). It also has some project-specific information for some major FOSS projects, but I fear that this information has already aged quite a bit.

I tried to write something a bit less time-bound, and with a greater focus on translation and the day-to-day involvement of a translator or translation team in the world of FOSS. To some extent this assumes a working environment for their language (fonts, keyboards, locales, etc.).

Thanks to Lucía Morado Vazquez I also very recently learnt about another book "Traducir (con) software libre" (in Spanish). I could only look over it very quickly with my non-existing Spanish to get an idea of what it is about. It seems to be more about introducing translators to FOSS.

So I believe that this book can fill an important gap. What do you think?